August 15, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011

Nubble Light - York, Maine

My wife and I took our annual vacation in York Beach, Maine last week. We had a great time.

As usual, we spent a lot of time on the beach, did some swimming, did a lot of walking and sightseeing, and had some great food. This year, we also took a drive to Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, saw some of the sights, and took a boat ride. The weather was terrific pretty much of the week, and we had lots of fun! Spending time with my wife in a warm climate is one of the things I love the most.

While I enjoy the ocean, the outdoors, and the company of my wife immensely, a few bits of technology helped me enjoy the week even more.

3G Kindle

I love to read. And vacations give me enough down time that I can read a lot.

In past years, I'd scour the bookstores, and particularly the discount racks, pick up three or four books, and bring them along. This year, I didn't bring any books, just my Kindle.

I've enjoyed my Kindle even more that I thought I would when I bought it last year. For me, I can open up one of the 200 or so books I have downloaded, and lose myself in the reading experience without caring about the platform. The interface is easy to use, and the e-ink screen makes it a pleasure to read indoors, or outside in the sun. I knocked off several enjoyable books.

When I researched the Kindle, I debated about which version I should purchase - the Wifi-only version, or the 3G+Wifi version. I think I made the right decision for me by opting for the slightly more expensive 3G+Wifi. This model provides both internet access as well the ability to download books via Wifi when it is available, and via 3G when it isn't. I don't even need to buy a data plan - the 3G access is free forever (and I always like free).

The 3G access was particularly useful on this vacation. The condo where we stay in Maine doesn't provide Wifi. But I was able to get a good enough 3G signal so that I could browse the internet, and stay up on the news. In particular, I was able to follow the New England Patriots training camp news - that makes me happy.

Since the Kindle isn't the fastest platform for browsing the internet, it's good if there's a mobile version of the websites you like to visit. So prior to vacation, I quickly whipped up a reasonably mobile-friendly website of my own ( and used it to house links to mobile-friendly versions of some of my favorite websites. Quick access, via free 3G, from the condo and the beach - very nice!

Bifocal Sunglasses

In past years, I had to bring along sunglasses and reading glasses wherever I went. I'm still not used to this whole glasses-wearing thing, so invariably I'd forget one or the other, and suffer for it.

This year, one of my wife's patients mentioned that they owned a pair of bifocal sunglasses. So we went to our local L.L. Bean store and found some. What a difference they make! I was able to bring just one pair of good glasses, and still could see in the sun without squinting as well as while driving or reading. Having a way to avoid tiring out my eyes made the days all that much more comfortable and enjoyable.


I brought along my iPod. And as I've done in the past, I loaded it up with some of my favorite podcasts.
  • PFW in Progress is a two-hour podcast with the writers of Patriots Football Weekly. This is what I listen to in the summer when I want to hear about what's going on with the New England Patriots.
  • APM: Marketplace Tech Report is a series of daily, short, lighthearted podcasts from American Public Media dealing with technology, and hosted by John Moe.
  • Science Friday is a weekly podcast from NPR. Some really good discussions of science and technology, hosted by Ira Flatow.
  • Science Talk is a weekly podcast from Scientific American. Host Steve Mirsky interviews leading scientists and journalists about the latest developments in the world of science.
When I want to close my eyes and relax, or when I take a long walk alone, I turn on the iPod and listen. Sometimes I listen to good music, and other times I listen to great discussions.

All in all, it was a great week of not thinking about work, having a wonderful time with my wife, and relaxing.

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at

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